Monday, April 2, 2012

Philly Kitchen: Sarah Riblet and Jake Gutman

Every other week Penn Appétit profiles a student who cooks on a college budget and in a college sized kitchen

This week I got to catch up with the cutest cooking couple in town, Sarah Riblet and Jake Gutman. Eating the delicious vegan meal they made was almost as much fun as getting to watch them cook together. Sarah has been a vegan for the past six years so for dinner we had tacos made with seitan. Seitan is a meat substitute made from wheat gluten and I was personally surprised and how much it actually tastes like meat (as I exclaimed several times over the course of dinner). They told me about their adventures trying to eat vegan while abroad and proved that cooking is much more fun with two people together!

Penn Appétit: Who is the better cook?
Jake Gutman: Probably Sarah, she has more experience.
Sarah Riblet: Jake brings a spirit of… exploration.
JG: My expertise is taking something that other people don’t like and trying to make something out of it, it’s like Chopped!
SR: You had to talk about Chopped, didn’t you?

PA: Would you eat garlic on a first date?
SR: I’m pretty sure that we did eat garlic on our first date.
JG: It’s bad; I like garlic and onion too much. If Sarah didn’t happen to be a garlic and onion person this relationship wouldn’t have worked out.

PA: How did you learn to cook?
JG: My mom cooked every single meal of my life essentially, so I learned a lot of recipes from her. But I also experimented a lot, I’d just find things in the fridge, I never followed recipes and that still shows in my cooking.
SR: My mom also cooked a lot but I first cooked on my own in this community where I lived in Ireland on a service project. As a volunteer you had to help them run the house so I was responsible for cooking meals for 12 people with all natural ingredients from the farm. I wasn’t a confident cook back then but it helped a lot.

PA: What’s your favorite dish to cook?
SR: I know what you’re going to say.
JG: What do you think I’m going to say, pasta?... probably. It’s my favorite thing to eat.
SR: It’s his favorite thing for me to make for him.
JG: Not true, she’s obscuring the truth! You can do anything with pasta; you can make it so many ways. We tend to cook it with a thick tomato meat sauce.
PA: Fake meat sauce right?
SR: Yeah, we have this super good sausage (Field Roast Grain Meat Sausage) made with wheat gluten, it’s so good it tastes like real sausage. We take the casing off and then crumble it into the sauce, once we even made cheese steaks with it.
(Note: I got to try a bit of the sausage and it actually did taste just like meat!)

PA: Do you have a cooking philosophy, other than to not eat animals?
JG: I don’t, I just go by the seat of my pants.
SR: Yeah, I do that too. But you [Jake] put all this weird food together that I never would. For you it’s like “If I have peanuts I’m making food with peanuts in it!” I do what makes sense; you do what’s there.
JG: True, I’m a scavenger.

PA: What’s your advice for people who want to start cooking?
JG: Just go for it, you have nothing to lose and you can always experiment, that’s how I started.
SR: I would say that cooking is always more fun if you’re doing it with someone else or for someone else. If you can get your friends together it will be a lot more fun.

Sarah and Jake’s Seitan tacos
Time: 45 minutes Serves: 4
• One red and one yellow onion
• One whole green pepper, cut into strips
• One package seitan (local if possible)
• ½ cup corn (fresh, canned or frozen)
• 2 tomatoes (Or kumatos, which look like a brown tomatoes, available at Whole Foods) + 3 grape tomatoes
• 4-5 cloves of garlic
• 2 tbsp limejuice
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 2 avocados
• One bunch of cilantro
• 1 tbsp tomato paste
• Chili powder, southwest seasoning, salt, pepper
• Jalapeno pepper (optional)
• Hard or soft taco shells

For the Seitan:
Rinse the seitan in a strainer. In a large pan, add 2 tbsp olive oil and 2 cloves of crushed garlic. Bring to medium heat. Add the seitan and cook for about ten minutes until it starts to brown. Add the southwest spice blend and ½ - ¾ cups of water; this will help the seitan absorb the spices. Chop your yellow onion into long strips and add to the seitan. Let cook until all the water has evaporated. Then add as much frozen corn as you like (we used about ½ cup). Once seitan has browned to your liking add it to the taco shells.

For the Salsa:
Chop up your tomatoes and place into your serving bowl. Take about ¼ red onion and dice, add to the tomatoes. Crush and add one clove of garlic. Add a dash of salt and pepper and about one spoonful of limejuice. If you like, chop up and add a few springs of cilantro. To finish, add about a tbsp of tomato paste to thicken it up. Add on top of the tacos.

For the Guacamole:
Take your avocados, scoop out the insides and add to a bowl. Coarsely chop a few springs of cilantro and add. Crush and add one clove of garlic. Very finely chop up ¼ of a red onion and add. Add 2-3 shakes of chili powder, a dash of salt and pepper and about a spoonful of limejuice. Cut up three grape tomatoes as small as you can. If you like, you can very finely chop a bit of jalapeno pepper and add it. Mix until you get your desired amount of chunkiness. Add to the tacos or serve on the side with chips (or both!)

-Leyla Mocan

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